A senior living facility and storage building is on tap at 32600 Northwestern Highway after recently being approved by the Farmington Hills City Council.

A senior living facility and storage building is on tap at 32600 Northwestern Highway after recently being approved by the Farmington Hills City Council.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Senior living, storage facility move forward in Farmington Hills

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published July 10, 2018

 A view of the location from Northwestern Highway.

A view of the location from Northwestern Highway.

Photo by Deb Jacques

FARMINGTON HILLS — After months of discussions and revisions, a senior living facility and storage building slated for 32600 Northwestern Highway was approved for a planned unit development last month. 

The Farmington Hills City Council unanimously approved a PUD for Stonecrest Senior Living and Beyond Self Storage through the Kansas City-based real estate development firm NorthPoint Development June 25. 

The company plans to build on about 5 acres of a 10-acre parcel at 14 Mile Road and Northwestern Highway. 

The Planning Commission granted preliminary qualification to the PUD plan at its Dec. 14, 2017, meeting. 

According to Planning Commission documents, the surrounding development area includes single-family homes to the north, an apartment complex to the east, various commercial and vacant properties to the south, and an electrical substation to the west. The site sits across from a West Bloomfield subdivision.

According to Farmington Hills officials, the property has been vacant for years, and the existing commercial building at the site would be removed. The two new buildings in its place would feature a three-story self-storage facility with 691 storage units and a three-story, 92-unit senior living facility that would be home to about 100 residents.

Edward Gardiner, director of planning and community development, said in a phone interview after the meeting that after the approval of the PUD plan, the site plan and a landscape plan, the next step would be for the City Council to approve a formal development agreement.

“Then they have to submit their plans for their construction plans for the issuance of a building permit,” he said. 

Gardiner added that there is a lot of support for the senior living facility and a storage facility in the area.

“We got a lot of letters of support, and some people had some concerns. With all development, you always have those issues,” he said. He said that the people in favor of it noted that the property has been vacant for years “as kind of a blighted area.”

“The investment that the applicant is proposing will be good for the area and, hopefully, it will spur other development along the frontage of Northwestern,” he said. 

West Bloomfield resident Diane Hausner, who lives near the proposed facility, in the Kimberley North subdivision, stated her objection in a June 21 letter to Farmington Hills Mayor Ken Massey.

She said that the PUD proposal for assisted living and self-storage facilities is not fit for the area because the intersection of 14 Mile and Northwestern Highway is already “extremely dangerous and highly congested.” Hausner said that it is “poorly designed and lacks adequate traffic management.” 

Cars zipped past her during a July 2 interview near the intersection, one of them then pulled over by a police officer.

Hausner said in the letter that the development would increase traffic but not provide adequate traffic control. “Thereby exacerbating the dangerous conditions at that intersection.”

Farmington Hills resident Marc Manson, also interviewed near the proposed development, discussed why he believes it won’t work. 

Manson, who also spoke during the June 25 City Council meeting, said that while the development is not in his backyard, he still has concerns, and he said many of his friends in West Bloomfield feel the same way.

He said that while he is not opposed to assisted living facilities, the development’s proposed location is near one of the most congested intersections in the area.

“This fact, combined with the increased traffic collision rates at the nearby traffic circle, will contribute to the traffic backups and total standstills that inhibit emergency vehicles from quick arrival at this destination (the senior facility) and their quick departure to an emergency center,” said Manson, whose background includes risk assessment. 

Kimberly North resident Marquise Fletcher, who lives across from the proposed development, also spoke during the meeting and requested that the City Council deny the PUD request.

“Particularly because the first thing that is going to change is the view,” he said, adding that the current state of the location is not an eyesore to him at all because he loves to see green grass and to play outside with his two daughters, ages 8 and 12.

Mark Pomerenke, vice president of Development at NorthPoint, said during the meeting that the company worked hard over the last six months addressing concerns about access, architecture, setbacks and landscaping.

Pomerenke said that they build a number of different types of buildings.

“Primarily we work in the multifamily senior living, self-storage and the industrial sectors — General Motors is actually our biggest customer.  We develop about 6 million square feet of logistic centers for them. … They are a local company, and the reason they choose to do business with us is because of how we conduct ourselves as a business partner.”

He said that the business wants to continue its investment in Farmington Hills.

He said that the site, zoned for commercial use, would have very low-impact traffic from a senior assisted living facility and climate-controlled self-storage building.

“It is a pretty tame crowd,” he said of the seniors.

Pomerenke added that the lot is at the “front door of Farmington Hills.”

“As you come into the city this is one of the first things you see,” he said. The proposal would include planning considerations such as leveling all of the vacant structures on the site, pulling up the pavement, abandoning utilities as needed, and more.

“We will actually clean this up and make this a clean and green site, so not only will we have a developed property in the back, but there will actually be a (development-ready) site in the front for commercial development that is sized appropriate to attract a good commercial use along Northwestern Highway.”

The self-storage facility would be on the west side.

“That project will access from Northwestern Highway, the east side of the project,” he said, adding that the senior living facility will have access from 14 Mile Road.

A gate between the two facilities would be installed, so through traffic would not be an option, he said.

“We’re really proud of the plan we put together. ... It will be really high-quality project,” Pomerenke said.

After comments from the public, a number of which expressed disapproval, City Councilman Richard Lerner told Pomerenke to work with the city attorney and the city manager to find a public benefit of greater value.

“Whether it is planting trees or landscaping or anything like that,” he said, to add a greater benefit. “I wish you luck. I think this will be a great project. We’d like to see more public benefit come out of it than what I’ve seen today.”

For more information, go to www.fhgov.com.